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Parent Who Lost Son In Parkland Shooting Might Consider Run For State House Seat

David Santiago
Miami Herald
Max Schachter, shown here at a meeting of a state commission investigating the Parkland shooting, lost his 14-year-old son Alex in the tragedy.

The state House member who represents the communities devastated by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting is leaving his seat for a position in the incoming governor’s administration — opening a spot in the Legislature that could be filled by one of the parents who lost a child in the tragedy.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat whose district includes Parkland and Coral Springs, is Republican Governor-elect Ron DeSantis' across-the-aisle pick to lead Florida’s emergency management agency. DeSantis' transition team officially announced the choice on Thursday, and Moskowitz confirmed by text message that he accepted the job.

It's not clear when there might be a special election to fill Moskowitz's seat. Max Schachter, who lost his son Alex on Feb. 14, said he would consider running for it.

Schachter lives in Coral Springs in Moskowitz’s district. He has been an outspoken advocate for school safety since the shooting and sits on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.

“I would think about it,” Schachter told WLRN on Thursday.

Another parent — Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was also killed in the Feb. 14 massacre — has become a national voice for gun control. A week after the shooting, he confronted U.S. Senator Marco Rubio on national television. A photo of him attempting to shake then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s hand during his confirmation hearings — but being rebuffed by the now-justice — went viral.

Guttenberg is the co-vice chair of Democrat and Agriculture Commissioner-elect Nikki Fried's transition team.

He said he’s not interested in the House seat — although some people in local and state politics have already approached him about running.

“I've been asked that now several times, and no, I have no intention of running for that,” Guttenberg said Thursday. “I am going to keep using my voice the way that I have, which I feel is a lane that works for me.”

Guttenberg said running a campaign, raising money and playing politics are not appealing to him.

“I don't feel like muting my opinions. I don't like being political,” he said. “I like to be able to tell people what I think, no matter what side of the aisle they're on.”

Two other parents whose children were murdered at Stoneman Douglas also said they don't want to run. Ryan Petty and Andrew Pollack — Republicans in mostly blue Broward County — both lobbied the Legislature on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Like Schachter, Petty and Pollack were both appointed to the state's investigative commission, but Pollack later left the group.

Petty, whose daughter Alaina died in the shooting, recently ran for a county-wide seat on the Broward school board and lost — although the race nearly went to a runoff.

"I’m not [running] if I want to stay married," Petty joked on Thursday.

"I have no intentions to run again," he said.

Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed, said: "I have my eye set on bigger things."

Pollack has met with President Trump and other national leaders, and he has campaigned for DeSantis as well as Republican Gov. Rick Scott during his recent successful campaign for U.S. Senate.

"I don't want to be stuck in Florida doing that when I could be up in D.C.," Pollack said.

Moskowitz said he will resign his House seat, but he's not sure yet when. He said "it's premature" to consider the timing of a special election to fill his seat, adding he didn't discuss with DeSantis or the transition team staff when the next governor might call for a new race. Legislative committee meetings start next week, and the 2019 session is from March to May.

Waiting to leave until after session would not be a possibility, though, Moskowitz said.

"This job is too important, especially, obviously, with the ongoing Hurricane Michael cleanup, and with hurricane season right around the corner," Moskowitz said. "I don't believe there could be any built-in delay on coming into office after the governor is sworn in on January 8th."

This story was updated at 3:40 p.m. with new information.